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Meet all of 2020’s Seattle City Councilmembers

The Seattle City Council chambers. (Seattle City Council, Flickr)

November 2019’s election season saw massive turnover on Seattle City Council, with just three incumbents returning to serve another term out of seven total races. What will this new council look like exactly? Let’s meet everyone sitting on the dais in 2020.

Seattle’s new city council starts Monday, Jan. 6.

District 1: Lisa Herbold (incumbent)

Lisa Herbold, Seattle City Council

The basics: Herbold was first elected to Seattle City Council in 2015, and was subsequently sworn into office in January 2016. She previously served as Councilmember Nick Licata’s aide, after coordinating his 1997 campaign. She defeated challenger Phil Tavel by 55.7 percent to 43.9 percent margin.

The issues: Herbold made homelessness a major plank for her 2019 legislative agenda, advocating for an immediate increase in funding for crucial services. She also prioritizes gender pay equity, restoring local authority to regulate rent and the eviction process, and access to healthy food in District 1. She touts a $29 million bond for affordable housing, public policy for paid sick leave, and a bill to prevent income discrimination against renters among her legislative accomplishments on the dais. She has expressed opposition to congestion tolling and the 1st Avenue streetcar.

District 2: Tammy Morales

Tammy Morales, Seattle City Council

The basics: Morales works as a community organizer for the Rainier Beach Action Coalition. She unsuccessfully ran for Seattle City Council’s District 2 seat in 2015, before triumphing in 2019 by beating out Mark Solomon by a wide margin of 60.4 percent to 39 percent. She replaces incumbent District 2 Councilmember Bruce Harrell.

The issues: During her campaign, Morales outlined a trio of principles that govern her priorities as a councilmember. The first is “repairing the harm,” encompassing a plan to combat the historical fallout of racial redlining in Seattle. The second involves “democratizing wealth, power, and resources,” where she pushes for a public bank in Seattle, as well as the expansion of community land trusts, affordable housing, and parks. The third is “planning for the seventh generation,” addressing her intent to implement Green New Deal policies. She opposes congestion tolling and an expanded police force, and supports rent control and safe injection sites.

District 3: Kshama Sawant (incumbent)

Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council

The basics: Sawant is District 3’s incumbent council member, first voted into office after the 2013 election. Before that, she was a software engineer and an economics instructor. She was the first socialist to win a citywide election in Seattle since 1916. She staged an against-all-odds comeback to score reelection for her District 3 seat, closing an early double-digit gap to ultimately win 51.8 percent to Egan Orion’s 42.7 percent.

The issues: In the lead-up to her 2019 campaign, Sawant made rent control one of her primary issues, in a push to propose legislation that would kick in should the state’s own restrictions against rent control get reversed. She has also been an outspoken critic against the presence of companies like Amazon in Seattle, advocating for higher taxes on the rich to fund public schools and high-speed municipal broadband. She supports safe injection sites, and opposes congestion tolling and an expanded police force.

District 4: Alex Pedersen

Alex Pedersen

The basics: Pedersen was a legislative aide to former Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess. He also worked as a special assistant to Secretary Andrew Cuomo in the U.S. Department of Housing during Bill Clinton’s second term as president. Pedersen was one of the few candidates endorsed by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s political arm, CASE, to win in November, topping Democratic Socialist Shaun Scott 51.9 percent to 47.6 percent. He was sworn into office in November, filling a District 4 seat vacated early by incumbent Rob Johnson, and previously occupied by interim Councilmember Abel Pacheco.

The issues: Like many candidates who ran for council across Seattle, one of Pedersen’s major focuses was homelessness, vowing to focus his attention on solutions that have proven successful in other cities. He also pushed for greater support of the city’s police officers, continued support for the Seattle Housing Levy, improvements to Mandatory Housing Affordability, and optimized transportation to get people to and from light rail. He is opposed to congestion tolling and safe injection sites.

District 5: Debora Juarez (incumbent)

Debora Juarez

The basics: Juarez has been a lawyer for 31 years, and has served on Seattle City Council since 2016. She’s worked as both a public defender and an attorney for the Native American Project. She served as a judge for two years in King County Superior Court, and then in the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs for Governors Mike Lowry and Gary Locke. Also endorsed by CASE, she won reelection by a 60.6 percent to 39 percent margin over Ann Davison Sattler.

The issues: Juarez touted her vote to expand Seattle’s legal diversionary program, LEAD, as well as being the first and only Seattle City Council member to open a physical district office. In the past, she’s voted to expand the city’s police force, to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, and to add the 130th Street light rail station to Sound Transit 3. She brought stakeholders to the table to help bring an NHL team to Seattle, and co-chaired the City Select Committee on Civic Arenas to usher in a deal for “a new world-class arena at no cost to the taxpayers.” She supports continued expansion of light rail in the north-end and safe injection sites.

District 6: Dan Strauss

Dan Strauss

The basics: Strauss boasts almost a decade of experience as a legislative aide and policy adviser for the city of Seattle, the Washington State Legislature, the Oregon Legislature, and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. He won handily won November’s election by a 55.6 percent to 43.8 percent margin, over former Councilmember Heidi Wills. He now steps in to fill Mike O’Brien’s seat in District 6, after getting sworn in at a Ballard ceremony on Dec. 22.

The issues: Strauss pushed for a “housing first” approach to homelessness during his campaign, as well as funding for increased mental health treatment and social services. He also supported an expanded network of dedicated bus and bike lanes, powering of city infrastructure entirely through renewable energy, “community-based solutions” to gun violence, and increased access to healthy food for families. He opposes rent control, and supports safe injection sites.

District 7: Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis

The basics: Lewis worked in the Seattle City Attorney’s office. He was previously appointed by Seattle City Council to serve as Human Rights Commissioner, where he was one of the youngest ever to hold the role. He defeated former interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel 52.9 percent to 46.6 percent, stepping into Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s vacant District 7 seat. He was officially sworn into office in a Queen Anne ceremony on Dec. 31.

The issues: Lewis prioritized housing and homelessness on his legislative agenda, including a plan to build 5,000 affordable housing units in three years, and 195 modular affordable housing units working in tandem with King County. He also advocated for reforming the city’s Navigation Team, to focus on transitioning people from homeless encampments into shelters and stable housing. He supports a larger police patrol force with strong civilian oversight, the establishment of a safe injection site, and expanded light rail and Rapid Ride services. He opposes congestion tolling and rent control.

At-large: Teresa Mosqueda

Lorena Gonzalez

The basics: Mosqueda was one of just two Seattle City Councilmembers not up for reelection in 2019. She first assumed office in 2017.

The issues: Prioritizing affordable housing among other issues, Mosqueda recently championed legislation to expand Seattle’s laws allowing mother-in-law units. Her other legislative priorities include affordable health coverage, sustainable energy, and workers’ rights. She has also reportedly looked at the possibility of a pedestrian friendly “superblock” in Seattle as a means to reducing traffic and improving access to public spaces.

At-large: Lorena Gonzalez

Lorena Gonzalez

The basics: Gonzalez was the second of two councilmembers not up for reelection in 2019. She first took office in November 2015, previously working as a civil rights lawyer. She was the first Latinx elected to Seattle City Council.

The issues: After large-scale corporate spending in November 2019’s council elections, Gonzalez stepped in to sponsor legislation to curb any such spending in future elections. In the past, she has spearheaded bills to allow secure scheduling for low-wage retail and restaurant workers, police accountability, firearm storage restrictions, expansion of paid parental leave, and more.

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